Nobody has time to watch football games anymore. We are all much too busy going to the beach or coaching our kids’ speedball league.
The good news is that we have you covered.
Because you are going to be be too busy Saturday at noon to watch Ohio State at Michigan State, we are going to tell you precisely what you’ll be missing. After all, with eight of us here picking the game, somebody is bound to summarize it relatively correctly.
For instance, last week Tom Orr predicted a 38-31 win over Nebraska. Now sure, he was far from correct, considering the Buckeyes only scored 36 points. And no, he didn’t mention anything about a blocked punt or a safety, but you have to admit, he almost got the score close to correct.
That’s the kind of service we promise to try to provide.
What does Saturday’s game against Michigan State look like?
Possibly like this…
Ohio State took some baby steps forward last week to righting the ship. We saw Urban Meyer change up the philosophy with the running game. Demario McCall played very early and made some plays. Unfortunately, he was then put back into his glass container labeled “For Emergency Use Only.”
The defensive line rotated in some beef early and often with Haskell Garrett and Tommy Togiai, which is what they need upfront with no pass rush at all. Use those bodies to free up space for the linebackers who struggle to get off blocks. Last but not least, we saw the emergence of Brendon White at safety…who took no bad angles to a tackle which is absolutely nuts and something I didn’t think was possible.
On Saturday, this game will ultimately come down to the Ohio State offense vs the Michigan State defense. Ohio State’s inept defense should be able to hold Michigan State’s inept offense under 20 points. So the question becomes, can the Buckeye offense score more than that against the best defense they have faced this season? I think we see Ohio State put a little more of it all together and play better than we have seen in the past few weeks.
Ohio State 31, Michigan State 17
This game always worries me, especially when on the road. The records never matter when these two teams play because it is always a tough game for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are going to need to run the ball like they did the last week, but also this team needs a good performance by Dwayne Haskins and Zone 6. Michigan State has the No. 1 run defense in the country, so the Scarlet and Gray have to get creative with how they are going to move the ball. I predict they will figure it out, but I think that they will still give up big plays defensively. Michigan State will have their moments and their share of big plays in this game.
I think this Buckeye team feels the sense of urgency with this game because their season depends on it. A two-loss Ohio State team before playing Michigan would not be the ideal scenario for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is the better and more talented team, they just have to play like it.
This will be a tough game for the Buckeyes, but I think they will figure out a way to win.
Ohio State 38, Michigan State 24
OSU trips to Michigan State all follow along the lines of Phil Connors’ forecast in “Groundhog Day” – It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be gray, and it’s going to last you for the rest of your life.
Phil probably could have tacked “and it’s going to come down to the final minutes” on to the end of that.
As far as OSU fans can tell, it is perpetually 38 degrees and cloudy in East Lansing, Michigan. And it’s going to be right around there on Saturday as well.
The forecast for the game itself should follow a familiar pattern as well: It’s going to be close and relatively low-scoring.
MSU is getting some of its injured offensive players back this week, and the Spartans’ defense is good enough to make the Buckeyes one-dimensional.
In two of Ohio State’s last three trips to Spartan Stadium, they’ve won by identical 17-16 scores. This year’s Buckeye offense is a little better than those, but the defense is worse.
Ohio State 24, Michigan State 23
The Spartans have a great run defense and the Buckeyes have shown most of the year that they have a pretty not great running game. It’s no surprise that Ohio State will need to rely heavily on the pass, but Michigan State will get after the quarterback as well as, if not better than, anyone the Bucks have played so far in 2018. Keeping Dwayne Haskins upright will be paramount to success.
Hopefully the Ohio State defense can continue to build upon the slight improvements of last week and keep the sometimes offensively-challenged Spartans under wraps so that Haskins can make enough plays on the road to keep the Buckeyes on schedule for their showdown with that team up north. It’s going to be close and special teams (i.e. Blake Haubeil) could be the difference.
Ohio State 23, Michigan State 21
Michigan State can stop the run. Luckily for Ohio State, the Buckeyes have not really been able to run the ball this year. On offense, MSU is better running the ball than throwing it. Again, this is lucky for Ohio State because they can’t really stop the pass this year.
I expect to see Ohio State continue to work on making their rushing attack serviceable. I also expect to see Haskins have a better game this week than he did against Nebraska. Sparty doesn’t have the pass defense to force another sub-60% completion game.
What is going to be exciting to see is how the OSU defensive backs take the field, with Fuller’s move and the fight for the other safety spot.
Expect to see a few #SpartyNo moments and to see the Buckeyes to continue their attempt to right the ship.
Ohio State 35, Michigan State 24
This was looking like a challenging game for Ohio State before the season began, and the inconsistencies displayed by the Buckeyes all season have done nothing to make this game look any better.
With the exception of last season’s blowout win by Ohio State, Michigan State always plays Ohio State tough, especially in East Lansing. A positive for Ohio State is that the Buckeyes have been able to overcome the traditionally stout Spartan defense, coming up with just enough points to eke out a close win.
I mentioned on the last Silver Bullets Podcast with Michael Citro the number 17 has figured prominently in this series, especially during Urban Meyer’s tenure (2012: OSU 17, MSU 16; 2015: MSU 17, OSU 14; 2016: OSU 17, MSU 16) – even with Michigan State’s offense having their own issues, I like Sparty to come up with at least 17 points, but Ohio State to have just a few more.
Ohio State 20, Michigan State 17
Michigan State is getting healthier at the right time, but quarterback Brian Lewerke is still playing in pain. His desire to avoid more pain may lead to a couple of turnovers. If the Buckeyes can capitalize on those turnovers, it will make their inability to run the ball less of an issue.
I don’t expect Ohio State to run the ball that well — only two teams have done anything other than terrible. Those two teams — Penn State and Michigan — were able to hit big shots on the ground. The Buckeyes have that capability, so perhaps they can get a big chunk to help the numbers.
Perhaps more important than OSU’s run blocking is their pass blocking. Michigan State has lost games while shutting the run down, so we know they can lose when the run game is outstanding. If the pass defense is good as well, then the Buckeyes are in trouble. The more time the Buckeye offensive line can give Dwayne Haskins, the more likely Ohio State is to win this game.
Ohio State 28, Michigan State 20
Being the statistical nerd of the bunch, I went through and looked for some patterns to try and see what Ohio State may need to do to come out on top against the Spartans in East Lansing.
· Hold MSU under 107 yards rushing
o All three losses fall into this category, though it doesn’t bode well for an OSU run defense that is giving up an average of 190 yards on the ground to Big Ten opponents. – That’s a “No” from me, dog.
· Pass for more than 300 yards
o Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. The Buckeyes have accomplished this in all but two contests, and MSU is 1-2 when allowing that mark. – Done.
· Limit the Spartan scoring to under 21 points
o MSU is 0-3 when failing to hit the 3-TD point total. – Check.
The Buckeyes will allow more than the magical 107 yards of rushing, but will also throw for just over 300 and keep Michigan State under the 21-point mark. Ohio State wins a tough one in East Lansing, separating a bit in the late minutes of the fourth quarter.
Ohio State 31, Michigan State 20